In this article, we discuss why effective resource allocation matters and how software can be used to optimise your firm’s allocation process.

What is resource allocation?

Resource allocation is the process of strategically selecting and assigning available resources to a task or project in support of business objectives.

In the context of accounting, resource allocation deals with the assignment of people and their skills to projects, also known as engagements. The essence of optimal resource allocation for any accountancy firm is matching the right people, with the right experience, qualifications, and skills with the right client and task, at the right time.

Resource allocation vs. resource scheduling

Resource allocation also takes into account the availability, capacity, and utilisation of resources across a firm but should not be confused with resource scheduling.

Resource scheduling is a crucial part of the resource planning process and usually follows resource allocation. Once resources have been identified and allocated based on the best match of skills and experience for an engagement, a resource manager will then schedule these resources for a specific time and task. The resource scheduling process should ensure that the resources with the skills, experience, and qualifications necessary are scheduled for the right task and at the right stage of the engagement.

Why is resource allocation important?

In the delivery of any project, poor allocation of resources will have a knock-on impact on overall performance. Without the right skills or knowledge on a project, efficiency, time, confidence, and motivation can be lost along the way.

In accounting, an optimal resource allocation process is key in order to empower teams, prevent burnout, and ensure engagement performance. In this context, resource allocation is not only an essential resource management process, it is also a critical lever for growth and success. The ability to effectively and consistently allocate the right resources to the right task, at the right time is at the core of every successful and profitable client engagement. When a firm allocates its resources, it’s actually matching the resources that will be dedicated to achieving client and business objectives.

Benefits of effective resource allocation

Getting resource allocation right isn’t always easy, but when done right, effective resource allocation can provide many benefits. Some of the key benefits include:

Staff retention

Poor resource allocation can contribute to a burned-out workforce. A survey of 1,222 UK accountants and ACA students from the accountancy wellbeing charity CABA found that two in five accountants feel too emotionally drained to work. When asked about the cause of the stress 33% reported either their work, career, or studies as the root cause.

Using the right resource allocation process, a firm can drive better resource utilisation, employee satisfaction, and retention simultaneously. An effective allocation system will optimise resource utilisation rates without overburdening your people. Effective resource allocation methods will also work to prevent other capable and available resources from being overlooked, ensuring tasks are assigned both fairly and strategically. In addition, by taking into account individual preferences, interests, and career aspirations when allocating work, your firm can better support professional development and retention.

Client satisfaction

A key focus for resource managers is to ensure that their clients are provided with the best teams possible, combining industry experience with the right skills and accreditations to ensure maximum quality and efficiency.

Best is a subjective concept, but clients will expect to see individuals with the right qualifications and experience assigned to deliver their engagements. That means those with appropriate skills, insight, and knowledge relevant to the client’s specific business and industry. This could include a combination of technical skills or sector experience, with particular ‘soft skills’ required on top. But these skills do not all have to reside in one person, location or timezone. An optimal resource allocation system will ensure these details are taken into account and identify a team with the most appropriate cross-section of skills to deliver each stage of the project. A resource management system that can utilise your people in the best way, will benefit staff and client satisfaction alike.

Profitable engagements

The ability to allocate the right combination of resources across multiple, complex engagements requires in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the skills, capacity, and availability of your resources. It also requires the ability to accurately predict the impact that resourcing decisions will have on engagement performance.

In the long term, an effective resource allocation strategy can help your firm to strike the right balance between over and under utilisation of resources. Maintaining this balance reduces the risks of overburdening your team or overspending on resources that are not required. Ensuring that the right resources are allocated to the right engagement at the right time, also increases efficiency while reducing the risk of overruns. The combination of greater visibility across all resources and engagement financials helps to ensure projects remain profitable and on schedule.

How can software optimise your resource allocation?

When you consider the number of moving parts required across multiple large scale client engagements, optimising resource allocation can be incredibly challenging. An intelligent resource management software solution can help your firm to overcome these complexities and allocate your resources strategically.

Reduce admin via automated best-match resource allocation

Resource management software can allow you to reduce the admin burden on your team and optimise your resource planning with automated best-match resource allocation.

To streamline the allocation process, resource management software can automatically identify the best people for the job using suitability scoring to ensure that the right skills, qualifications, availability, location, and all of your key criteria are accounted for. By streamlining this decision-making process and reducing manual steps, resource management software can also increase efficiencies and free up time for resource managers to focus on more strategic tasks.

Easily explore alternative resourcing decisions with greater visibility

One of the biggest opportunities for optimising resource allocation is to assess your resources across the widest pool of staff possible. By having all of your resources in one scheduling software, you have the option to expand beyond local resource allocation by looking at skills, expertise, and availability at a nationwide and global level. This visibility supports a more agile and informed decision-making process.

It’s not unusual for unexpected changes to occur or for an engagement to suddenly require additional resources. Intelligent resource management software allows your firm to explore the various staffing options and adapt to changing demands without disrupting existing schedules. The more visibility a firm has over its available resources at any one time, the easier it becomes to explore alternative resourcing decisions should changes be necessary. Filters and automated alerts can also be used to identify clashes within the schedule, allowing resource managers to prevent or resolve conflicts in real-time.

Track skills and preferences to support fulfilling careers

Resource allocation software can help your firm to support career development and staff retention efforts by allowing resource managers to consider skills and individual preferences when allocating work in the system. In addition to attracting and retaining talent, the ability to match skills and preferences to the work assigned will contribute to higher quality engagements and provide greater visibility of skill shortages.

Resource management software can also be used to empower your teams by allowing them more autonomy in the work they are involved in. During the allocation process individuals can highlight the types of task, engagement or industry they are interested in from the available and unassigned work aligned to their grade, location, and business unit.

Increase transparency within the resource allocation process

The business benefits of a more diverse and inclusive workplace are far-reaching and have been shown to positively impact overall performance and productivity, staff engagement and retention, client relationships, and firm culture.

We’ve previously written about the diversity problem in accounting and questioned how technology can play its part in redressing the balance. An automated resource allocation system can help to reduce the chance of human bias or favouritism by prioritising capacity alongside the best match of skills and experience for an engagement. With the right resource allocation tool and governance in place, staff can see that work is assigned based on set criteria rather than connections, preference or recency bias. Offering this transparency within the resource allocation process is increasingly important for creating a more fair and inclusive workplace.

Final thoughts

Whether your firm has 20 or 200 resources to manage, effective resource allocation depends on the ability to identify, match, and utilise your teams’ skills and capacity alongside client demand. With the right resource management tools in place, resource allocation optimisation can be a key lever to drive more profitable engagements, improve client satisfaction, and keep your teams happy.

Discover how Dayshape can help you optimise your firm’s resource allocation and maximise the potential of your resources through AI-powered resource management.

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